With the call of the federal election, the Western Canadian Wheat Growers asked each of the registered parties five questions that we thought would be of interest to our members and specifically prairie grain farmers.
On September 11, 2019 the following questions were sent to each party. As of October 14, 2019, we heard back from six parties. Should other parties submit their answers, we will update the survey.
1. As the next federal government, what would your top priorities be for farmers and the agriculture industry across the prairies?
An Andrew Scheer government will cancel the carbon tax, take a more aggressive approach to opening new markets and breaking down trade barriers, and work hard to reduce unnecessary regulation so farmers can thrive.
It is also important to stress that the Conservative Party is very concerned that a Liberal/NDP coalition government will continue to enact policies and regulations that will hurt Canada’s already worsening competitiveness.
Our government has been proud to invest in the future of farming to ensure we continue to punch above our weight in the global market. Thanks to investments, such as the up to $50 million we have committed to the Canadian Agri-Food Automation and Intelligence Network this past summer, Canadian farmers will have new technologies and systems that will help make their farms more efficient.
We know that business risk management programs are critical to ensuring that farmers have the help they need to manage risks beyond their control. We are committed to moving forward together with the provinces and territories on a collaborative review to improve Canada’s business risk management programs. We know many farmers and producers have voiced concerns about the AgriStability program. We are are prepared to increase the federal support to AgriStability to ensure farmers have the support they need to help manage risks beyond their control including market access challenges.
- Fund research and extend support for farmers shifting from conventional to organic and regenerative farming systems which work with nature, not against it, to produce food.
- Protect the right of farmers to save their own seed and promote heritage seed banks and seed exchange programs.
- Set a target to replace a third of Canada’s food imports with domestic production, increasing regional food self-reliance and returning 15 billion food dollars back into our economy.
- Restore the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation measures for adaptation to drought conditions.
- Restructure Canada’s Business Risk Management Programs to help farmers cope with climate risk, with the focus on disaster assistance.
- Reinstate the Canada Land Inventory program to provide a comprehensive record of existing and potential agricultural land.
- Provide effective fiscal incentives to other levels of government to preserve farmlands under their jurisdictions.
- The CHP would develop a national food strategy. There is no more important task for our nation than food production.
- CHP will review existing marketing boards on a case-by-case basis to ensure they are still meeting the needs of the producers they represent as well as Canadian consumers.
2. What is your party’s position on free and competitive markets in international trade, including the elimination of export subsidies, reduction of trade-distorting domestic support, and reducing tariffs and non-tariff barriers that inhibit market access?
On trade, our election platform includes the following:
Stand Up for Canada’s Trade Interests: To support Canadian industries, a new Conservative government’s focus will remain squarely on promoting Canada’s competitive advantage in global supply chains. Justin Trudeau has prioritized self-congratulatory speeches that charm celebrities and aggravate our trading partners. It is time to focus on Canadians, not Trudeau’s progressive posturing.
We will respond forcefully to non-tariff barriers, particularly in the agriculture sector, and foreign industrial subsidies so that Canadians can compete on a level playing field. Many of the trade disputes that have been big barriers to our exports of agricultural goods have been met with half-hearted responses from Justin Trudeau. Canadian canola, soy, pork, beef, berries, lentils, and many other products have been impacted, costing Canadian producers hundreds of millions of dollars. A Conservative government would set up global monitoring of non-tariff barriers and aggressively challenge these at the World Trade Organization. We would also be willing to retaliate with our own trade sanctions, such as imposing tariffs or regulatory restrictions, to forcefully defend Canada’s trade interests.
To ensure that our trading partners live up to the spirit, not just the letter, of our agreements, we will insist on chapters dealing with non-tariff trade barriers in future trade deals. Decades ago, the primary barriers to trade were tariffs. As these have come down, it is now regulatory and non-tariff barriers that are the biggest problems for Canadian exporters, particularly in the agricultural sector. Canadian canola, soy, pork, beef, berries, lentils, and many other products have been blocked by arbitrary rules overseas. We will include chapters in future trade agreements to address these issues and to find new ways for resolving these types of regulatory disputes.
Create a CETA and CPTPP Accelerator: To better support our small and medium enterprises on the world stage, we will provide extra funding to support Canada’s entrepreneurs in finding customers in Europe as well as in markets opened by our new free trade agreements. Sometimes, just signing a trade agreement is not enough. An ‘accelerator’ is necessary to take full advantage of these newly opened markets. This accelerator will provide market intelligence or advice on local regulations, as well as funding to attend trade shows.
Share Better Information About our Free Trade Agreements with Canada’s Businesses: To help small and medium enterprises understand the benefits of a free trade agreement to their business, we will provide valuable industry-by-industry market intelligence to exporters – not just agreement-by-agreement – so they can learn where the greatest opportunities are.
With new trade deals with the US, EU and Asia Pacific countries, Canadian businesses are now connected to 1.5 billion consumers in over 50 countries. These agreements were just a first step. Our Liberal government is investing over $1 billion to help Canadian exporters access those markets to expand their innovative ideas and products globally.
A re-elected Liberal government will keep working to get Canadian goods to the world so businesses remain competitive, our economy stays strong, and more good jobs are created here at home. We will continue our support of the rules-based international order and will look for every opportunity to knock down tariff and non-tariff barriers that continue to limit market access for Canadian producers.
- Our position is that Canada must be able to provide food for our national in times of trouble. If we allow international trade to affect our own production of food then we have not done our duty as a government.
- Carefully administered tariffs do have a place in protecting our food supply.
3. What is your party’s position on a carbon pricing system, including on a credit and debit system that acknowledges the significant carbon reductions being achieved by prairie grain growers through modern farming techniques and sequestering?
In government, we have a proven history of supporting the agricultural sector’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in areas like soil health, carbon sequestration, clean technologies, and value-added bio-products.
As part of our commitment to tackling climate change and growing the economy – we ensured it is no longer free to pollute across Canada. In jurisdictions that did not take leadership and implement a price on pollution, there is a federal backstop in place that will incent innovation, and ensure lower emissions, cleaner air, new business opportunities and more money in the pockets of Canadians.
It is required, by law, that all of the revenue from carbon pricing return to the jurisdiction that it came from. In Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Ontario and on January 1st of 2020 in Alberta, 90% of the revenue from the federal backstop goes directly back to people in a Climate Action Incentive rebate when they file their taxes – such that 80% of families will be better off, as confirmed by the independent Parliamentary Budget Office. Residents in rural areas receive an additional 10% top-up.
Our pollution pricing policy also reflects the realities of our agricultural industry. Gasoline and diesel fuels for on-farm use have always been exempted under the federal backstop, and in Budget 2019, we clarified that fuels obtained from card lock facilities are included.
Our system for heavy industry – the Output Based Pricing System – supports industry and businesses that are emissions intensive and trade exposed in reducing their emissions, while continuing to be competitive.
We know that farmers complete in global markets – which is why the OBPS covers fertilizer production, and why a similar system applies to the greenhouse sector.
Budget 2019 included funding in creating a National Offset System, and a re-elected Liberal government will continue its work on developing an offset system where companies participating in the OBPS can buy offset credits to reduce emissions that are not part of the carbon pricing system. Offset credits can provide an important opportunity to receive compensation for reducing agricultural emissions.
Lastly, we have committed to review the federal backstop in 2022 and to do an early review in 2020 focused on competitiveness issues in trade exposed industries, such as agriculture. We will continue to work with farmers and all parts of the Canadian economy to ensure that the backstop is working well for them.
We will continue working together with farmers and the sector to help them adapt to the effects of climate change, and stay on the cutting edge of innovative solutions.
the demands of lobbyists and insiders and cut big polluters a big break. All the while making you pay more. We will make carbon pricing fairer and roll back the breaks that have been given to big polluters, making them pay their fair share and not put the entire burden on individual households.
This being said, the Green party will fund research and extend support for farmers shifting from conventional to organic and regenerative farming systems which work with nature, not against it, to produce food. Greens will invest $2.5 million per year into a land and quota trust program and farming apprenticeship programs to expand local small-scale agriculture and help new farmers get started.
- Our position is that carbon pricing is paying for a something that doesn’t actually exist. Climate has always changed and man’s desire to control the climate cannot be successfully completed. Further, the increased prices as a result of carbon taxes imposes a financial burden on many Canadians and abroad the burden becomes unbearable in societies that are already destitute.
- CHP Canada holds the position that the only tax Canadians should pay is a Fair Tax… similar to the GST.
4. Farmers depend on road and rail infrastructure to bring in inputs (seed and fertilizer) and export grain. What is your party’s position on the grain transportation system and the ability to maintain an accountable and efficient system considering possible future overcrowding on the rail system? How will your party support rural infrastructure investment?
An Andrew Scheer government would ensure that rural and remote communities get their fair share of infrastructure dollars by setting aside a budget specifically for them.
We are also investing $10 billion in trade and transportation corridors to help get our products to market, including a total of $2 billion over 11 years has been allocated for the National Trade Corridors Fund, which will support projects to efficiently move goods to market and people to their destinations, stimulate economic growth, create quality middle-class jobs, and ensure that Canada’s transportation networks remain competitive and efficient.
An example of key investments are those we made to improve efficiency at the Port of Vancouver, a critical bottleneck for agricultural exports in Western Canada. These investments will improve the fluidity and performance of the transportation system, increase the value and volume of goods exported from Canada to overseas markets, and generate new overseas trade as a result of the investment.
Under the Conservative government in 2013–14, some of the biggest backlogs of grain shipments ever recorded cost grain farmers across Canada $6.5 billion dollars. We cannot allow that to happen again.
An NDP government would ensure that rail transportation finally treats farmers fairly and helps you get your products to market quickly and affordably. But we also know the backlog on the rails and price-gouging isn’t the only problem our grain farmers face. We’ll also invest in farm communities by supporting regional economic development agencies and provide economic support for rural areas to invest in job creation and community development. Rural communities need fair access to federal infrastructure and transit funds, and more help to prepare for and deal with the increasingly severe impacts of climate change. New Democrats will work with provinces to put in place a new deal for rural infrastructure programs that provide long-term predictable funding for communities.
A Green government will support the model of collaborative federalism, working with and ensuring fair treatment for provinces, territories, municipalities and Indigenous Peoples by establishing a Council of Canadian Governments to set higher order policy priorities, with the goal of policy coherence to optimize public spending. Greens would also institutionalize federal transfers to municipalities through the creation of a Municipal Fund, renaming the Gas Tax funds, which were delinked from gas tax revenue years ago, and ensure a doubling of current funding to ensure predictable and reliable funding to municipalities for infrastructure projects most needed by their communities. One per cent of GST would also be allocated to housing and other municipal infrastructure on an ongoing basis to provide a consistent baseline of funding.
- Our position is that the levels of government in the closest proximity are most able to determine the needs of the locals.
- Our Infrastructure improvement loan could be used my local governments to make the necessary changes to local infrastructure.
5. What is your party’s position on the development of agricultural innovations that make farmers more profitable and sustainable, with a science-based regulatory approval process for the introduction of new technologies, including the adoption of genetically modified crops?
Our platform also includes the following promise to modernize grain regulation:
Modernize the Canada Grain Act and Canadian Grain Commission: To support farmers, we will make sure that the Canada Grain Act (CGA) and Canadian Grain Commission (CGC) align with modern agricultural practices, global market requirements, and the needs of our farmers. Agriculture has changed drastically in recent decades. Unfortunately, the regulation of agriculture in Canada has not always kept up with the market. We will bring the CGA and CGC in line with today’s standards in consultation with farmers.
Return Overcharged User Fees to Farmers: To put more money in the pockets of farmers, as part of the modernization of the CGA and CGC, we will return the $130 million in overcharged user fees amassed by the CGC to farmers.
We are committed to maintaining Canada’s science-based regulatory process for the approval of new novel crops and foods. At the same time, we will ensure our science-based process can keep up with the pace of technological advancement and innovation within the biotechnological sector – while always ensuring that neither the health nor safety of Canadians is compromised. Indeed, it is because of our approach’s ability to manage flexibility through the novel foods regulatory system that Canada’s process is well-respected worldwide. Moving forward, we will venture to provide greater regulatory certainty regarding which products are subject to regulation – while at the same time maintaining the strengths of our system. We will also continue to engage with international partners to ensure global approaches to the management of biotechnology are practical, science-based and transparent.
We know that innovation is vitally important to keeping our agricultural sector and farmers on the cutting edge to maintain our competitive position in the global market. That is why we have made significant investments to support innovation and science in agriculture. This includes almost $700 million under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership to support science and innovation, including $13.9 million for the wheat research cluster, over $150 million in the Protein Industries Supercluster and more recently $50 million from ISED’s Strategic Innovation Fund has been announced to help the agricultural sector harness the potential of emerging digital technologies.
- Farming is essential to the future of our country.
- There are concerns about GMO. These must be sufficient addressed to satisfy the consumer before Genetic Modification is accepted. Continued Research in these areas must be done before meeting with our approval. We see a great increase in allergies to foods we have traditionally consumed. This tells us there are problems in our food supply. These must be addressed.